The Customer’s Always Wrong: Stupid Things Shoppers Say, by Geoff Tibballs


This is the sort of book that you would think the internet had made redundant (it was published in 2013).  In fact it shamelessly lists its sources at the end – nine websites and blogs, including one called ‘stupidcustomers’.  All Geoff Tibballs has done is to trawl internet sites that smugly recount the daft things customers are alleged to have said and slap some examples together.

The result purports to contain true stories.  If they all are, there seems to be an astonishing amount of idiocy in the world, but there is no guarantee these are completely genuine.  Some of the responses by staff feel a little too polished, often offensively snarky, and occasionally come across as wish-fulfilment fantasies of what the employee would like to have said.  This is history written by the winners.

People are depicted as so moronic it is a wonder they can tie their own shoelaces, but there are causes other than low IQ for some of the behaviours exhibited here.  Occasionally a customer seems to be suffering from absent-mindedness or having trouble processing a larger than usual amount of information in an unfamiliar situation, rather than exhibiting stupidity per se.  Who among us can say they have never had that happen to them?  Elderly people getting to grips with information technology and out of their depth saying things that computer professionals think foolish are an easy target.

Some aren’t being at all stupid – ‘I’m looking for parts [i.e. car parts] for my husband’ seems an entirely sensible thing to say, it’s only the ambiguity that makes it mildly amusing.  How a telephone salesperson mistaking a customer’s name, Mary Christmas, for Merry Christmas, a reasonable enough error, is a sign of stupidity on Mary’s part is a puzzle (this is an instance where an individual is given their real name and might consider litigation, or the whole thing is made up).

It is a puzzle why anyone would pay £7.99 to read in paperback something you can get free online, apart from the consequences of accidentally dropping it down the loo not being as severe.  Perhaps the stupidest customers are the ones forking out for this book, which requires the disclaimer that I did not pay for my copy.


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